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All About Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s trajectory in the art world was meteoric – but so was his fall. In just a few years, he went from a teenager spray painting graffiti to world famous artist. He died when he was only 27 years old. His legacy was, until recently, overshadowed by Andy Warhol (his mentor) & Pablo Picasso, but the world is re-discovering Basquiat and on the heels of that rediscovery, a flurry of new works have been published. Here are 5 we recommend.

Radiant Child by Javaka Steptoe

Before Basquiat’s explosion on to the art scene in the 1980s, he was a boy who saw art in everything. With collage-style artwork that reflects Basquiat’s own methods, Javaka Steptoe shows how art can be found in old work papers, graffiti, and even children’s street games.

Basquiat: Rage to Riches

Rage to Riches traces Basquiat’s life story from his childhood in Brooklyn to an art world darling to his untimely death. With interviews from family, friends, and fellow artists, this documentary paints a unique portrait of an artist who helped define an era, while exploring the changes and social forces that drove Basquiat to create.

Basquiat edited by Marc Mayer

Showcasing Basquiat’s works from a traveling exhibition in the mid-2000s, this collection also features discussions of Basquiat’s place in history, his connection to music, and more. If you’re simply looking to dive in and see what Basquiat did, this book is the place to start.

Life Doesn’t Frighten Me by Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou’s poem of children who are absolutely and in no way scared of ghosts, dragons, snakes or anything else pairs with Basquiat’s bold drawings to create a charming picture book. This short title is a great choice for parents who want to introduce art to their children at a young age or for adults who want to sample the work of a great poet and a great artist at the same time.

Basquiat by Julian Voloj

Voloj and Mosdal’s comic-style biography of Basquiat only lightly plays off his art style, but covers his life starting with his car crash injury and departure from home at 15 years old. Unlike many other works about Basquiat, it also heavily explores his work as graffiti artist SAMO© and his early encounters with Andy Warhol.